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Gold Bug cipher font

Gold Bug cipher font

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Gold Bug


The font Gold Bug is based on the cipher used by Edgar Allan Poe in his classic story "The Gold-Bug." In the story, the directions to a buried pirate treasure were encrypted with this cipher, and its decryption was a central part of the story. As a font, Gold Bug is an interesting-looking substitution cipher which can be readily typed or printed. It works extremely well for steampunk and is almost as useful for pulp/adventure games, or indeed any time after the invention of movable type. In the number of people whose interest in cryptography can be traced to it, this cipher, and the story in which it appeared, is probably foremost; at most second only to the Dancing Men of Sherlock Holmes fame, That includes this author; that story and this cipher led to an interest in cryptography, and subsequently alphabets, which is why the Wintertree fonts exist at all.

The cipher substitutes numerals and punctuation for letters, which makes decrypting a message written in Gold Bug easy: just type in what you see, and it will display as plaintext. Because the original ciphertext did not use all the letters of the alphabet, some letters were unknown. For these, letters given as examples in Poe's 1841 essay "A Few Words on Secret Writing" were used to fill in the gaps.

Since the actual font makes use of a number of characters more convenient for a typesetter with a tray full of little metal letters than those of us with conventional computer keyboards. Therefore, the lowercase includes slightly more keyboard-friendly symbols for a few letters; it's marginally less authentic, but much easier to type for decryption. In addition, unused letters have been assigned to the numerals, exclamation point, and question mark. The font also includes single and double quotes, the period, and the comma. (note that the single quote looks very much like the character used for the letter "P", so use with caution to avoid confusion)

This package includes the text of the original short story "The Gold-Bug" by Edgar Allan Poe. Note that some aspects of it are extremely 19th-century, and not in a good way. You have been warned.

10% of the net sale price from this font will be donated to Project Gutenberg, which has digitized and made available Poe's works.

The characters are derived from Asea, part of the free Textfonts set by George Douros.

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Product Information
Publisher Stock #
File Size:
8 MB
Original electronic
Scanned image
These products were created by scanning an original printed edition. Most older books are in scanned image format because original digital layout files never existed or were no longer available from the publisher.

For PDF download editions, each page has been run through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to attempt to decipher the printed text. The result of this OCR process is placed invisibly behind the picture of each scanned page, to allow for text searching. However, any text in a given book set on a graphical background or in handwritten fonts would most likely not be picked up by the OCR software, and is therefore not searchable. Also, a few larger books may be resampled to fit into the system, and may not have this searchable text background.

For printed books, we have performed high-resolution scans of an original hardcopy of the book. We essentially digitally re-master the book. Unfortunately, the resulting quality of these books is not as high. It's the problem of making a copy of a copy. The text is fine for reading, but illustration work starts to run dark, pixellating and/or losing shades of grey. Moiré patterns may develop in photos. We mark clearly which print titles come from scanned image books so that you can make an informed purchase decision about the quality of what you will receive.
Original electronic format
These ebooks were created from the original electronic layout files, and therefore are fully text searchable. Also, their file size tends to be smaller than scanned image books. Most newer books are in the original electronic format. Both download and print editions of such books should be high quality.
File Last Updated:
March 13, 2018
This title was added to our catalog on March 13, 2018.